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Running a heist
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Straxus
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:16 am    Post subject: Running a heist Reply with quote

Not sure if this should go here or in the Gamemaster-section.

I read a discussion somewhere (here or another forum) about running a heist adventure, and a common challenge when doing this kind of thing.

What usually happens is this:

1. The players get an objective - "Steal artifact X"
2. Player makes plans, debate/argue about the details, plan some more, do a little legwork, including a couple of complications related to the legwork.
3. Revising plans based on legwork info.

This part usually takes hours, and while it can be fun it will end up with two scenarioes:

1. The plan is executed, and works flawlessly. The players are relieved, but it makes for a kinda boring last act of the adventure.
2. The GM introduces some new element/information/stuff that throw the whole plan out the window, and the players need to wing it. (this is usually what happens in the sessions I've played)

In a typical heist movie, you often only get to know part of the plan the main character has, so when you think they are in serious trouble, they pull a trick out of their sleeves that surprises both the audience and the adversaries.
This is a bit difficult to translate to a RPG session, but someone had this idea:

Give the players an objective, and some basic information.
Let the players make a rough plan, but put a time limit (say 10 min or whatever, but make sure they know they can't ponder forever). It is assumed that the characters spend a lot of time planning, perhaps several days.

Then start the execution of the plan. Whenever the PCs faces a challenge, they are allowed to call for a "flashback scene", and throw a relevant skill to see if the character had something planned for just this situation.

Eg: The PCs need to get into a nightclub to place a hidden camera somewhere. Only problem is, on that night there is a "guest list only"-event. One player calls for a flashback, to see if he was able to tamper the list in some way. The player needs to decide how, and roll a relevant skill. Maybe he hacked the clubs computer, or maybe he bribed one of the guards earlier, or managed to discover the names of someone on the list, and is able to impersonate this person (showing a fake ID, perhaps?.

Depending on the roll, the GM describes how the character solved it in the flashback. If he fails, say he didn't pay the guard enough, the guard still won't let them in, and they need to figure out something else.

The goal of doing it this way is to a) avoid hours of useless planning in the game session (because the GM is gonna throw them a curve ball anyway) and b) Keep some suspense for both players and GM, while still keep the Well Planned Heist Movie feel.

In theory this seemed like a good idea, I was just wondering if anyone here has tried running an adventure this way? What did you think of it? Was it a successful technique, and how did the players feel about it?
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Mamatried
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been part of a game very like that in shadowrun, it was fun enough, but too much time was spent between characters and players arguing the best course of action.

In short the mission was "get thing X, located at place Y"
And then from there, doing survaillence etc etc, then planning the entry then executing, with a whole bunch of going here and there to try and get info etc etc.
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Wajeb Deb Kaadeb
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just out of coincidence, there's a heist that the players can stop (or do nothing), in the Graveyard of Alderaan adventure. If the PCs do intervene, they get an introduction to some important NPCs.
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Straxus
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mamatried wrote:
I have been part of a game very like that in shadowrun, it was fun enough, but too much time was spent between characters and players arguing the best course of action.

In short the mission was "get thing X, located at place Y"
And then from there, doing survaillence etc etc, then planning the entry then executing, with a whole bunch of going here and there to try and get info etc etc.


Excactly, this sounds like almost every Shadowrun session I've played, and that is what I'm hoping to avoid. A bit of planning/legwork is fun, but it always get dragged out endlessly by paranoid players, and there will always be some unknown twist anyway.
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Mamatried
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Straxus wrote:
Mamatried wrote:
I have been part of a game very like that in shadowrun, it was fun enough, but too much time was spent between characters and players arguing the best course of action.

In short the mission was "get thing X, located at place Y"
And then from there, doing survaillence etc etc, then planning the entry then executing, with a whole bunch of going here and there to try and get info etc etc.


Excactly, this sounds like almost every Shadowrun session I've played, and that is what I'm hoping to avoid. A bit of planning/legwork is fun, but it always get dragged out endlessly by paranoid players, and there will always be some unknown twist anyway.


How about a time limit, some competiton maybe, get item X first, or as soon as possible, there is no time fo too much planning as it happens enroute to something else, but is suddenly vital for the initial mission, now needs to do the heist.

It could be they meet up with a contact, they know the place, and where and what, but there is a little problem, the empire have issued new codes, only the governor have the master code needed, it is in hi desk, and the time is running out, now the desk is the heist, it must be don in the scope of the overall mission or both fails, and the empire wins the day
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a heist Reply with quote

Straxus wrote:

Give the players an objective, and some basic information.
Let the players make a rough plan, but put a time limit (say 10 min or whatever, but make sure they know they can't ponder forever). It is assumed that the characters spend a lot of time planning, perhaps several days.

Then start the execution of the plan. Whenever the PCs faces a challenge, they are allowed to call for a "flashback scene", and throw a relevant skill to see if the character had something planned for just this situation.


Interesting angle, allowing 'flashback scenes'. On those, how long would you let them spend trying to 'come up with something'??

For ME, on the few times i have had a heist like mission, i prefer allowing 1 hr IN real time, to let them do their planning and such. And 2-3 hrs for the execution of it..

Straxus wrote:

Excactly, this sounds like almost every Shadowrun session I've played, and that is what I'm hoping to avoid. A bit of planning/legwork is fun, but it always get dragged out endlessly by paranoid players, and there will always be some unknown twist anyway.


Then they miss out on achieving the heist, cause they spent so much time 'dithering and planning' that by the time they acted, what they were going to steal has disappeared/moved on/got sold off...
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Straxus
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mamatried wrote:
Straxus wrote:
Mamatried wrote:
I have been part of a game very like that in shadowrun, it was fun enough, but too much time was spent between characters and players arguing the best course of action.

In short the mission was "get thing X, located at place Y"
And then from there, doing survaillence etc etc, then planning the entry then executing, with a whole bunch of going here and there to try and get info etc etc.


Excactly, this sounds like almost every Shadowrun session I've played, and that is what I'm hoping to avoid. A bit of planning/legwork is fun, but it always get dragged out endlessly by paranoid players, and there will always be some unknown twist anyway.


How about a time limit, some competiton maybe, get item X first, or as soon as possible, there is no time fo too much planning as it happens enroute to something else, but is suddenly vital for the initial mission, now needs to do the heist.

It could be they meet up with a contact, they know the place, and where and what, but there is a little problem, the empire have issued new codes, only the governor have the master code needed, it is in hi desk, and the time is running out, now the desk is the heist, it must be don in the scope of the overall mission or both fails, and the empire wins the day


The problem isn't that the PCs are taking too much time planning, an elaborate heist should be well thought out. The problem is that the players are using sooo much time preparing, and whether they plan really well or not, the execution part will suffer.

The goal with the flashback technique is to get that caper movie feel in the game session.

All of your suggestion are good for avoiding tedious planning ingame (and I use them often), but in this case I want the characters to plan it well, without making it predictable/boring/futile.
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Straxus
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a heist Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:


Interesting angle, allowing 'flashback scenes'. On those, how long would you let them spend trying to 'come up with something'??


I'm not sure, but I think they need to come up with it quite fast. After all, they will have a very clear cut problem they need to solve. Typically they'd go: "aw man, we should have done this before coming here!"
And with Flashback (TM) Technology, they can! Surprised If they make the roll, that is...

Never tried this before, so I was hoping someone had, and have some good advice Smile
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Mamatried
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a heist Reply with quote

Straxus wrote:
garhkal wrote:


Interesting angle, allowing 'flashback scenes'. On those, how long would you let them spend trying to 'come up with something'??


I'm not sure, but I think they need to come up with it quite fast. After all, they will have a very clear cut problem they need to solve. Typically they'd go: "aw man, we should have done this before coming here!"
And with Flashback (TM) Technology, they can! Surprised If they make the roll, that is...

Never tried this before, so I was hoping someone had, and have some good advice Smile


How about making the "planning" that will come into getting contact info there, getting item so and so there and so.......
With this you use the nature of planning that will come, into the mission it self
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Running a heist Reply with quote

Straxus wrote:
Not sure if this should go here or in the Gamemaster-section.

I read a discussion somewhere (here or another forum) about running a heist adventure, and a common challenge when doing this kind of thing...

You were fine putting discussion of this adventure-type in Adventures and Campaigns. Thanks for posting this!
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Straxus wrote:

The problem isn't that the PCs are taking too much time planning, an elaborate heist should be well thought out. The problem is that the players are using sooo much time preparing, and whether they plan really well or not, the execution part will suffer.
.


Then maybe give them a limited amount of time both AS PLAYERS as well as characters to do the planning..

Straxus wrote:

I'm not sure, but I think they need to come up with it quite fast. After all, they will have a very clear cut problem they need to solve. Typically they'd go: "aw man, we should have done this before coming here!"
And with Flashback (TM) Technology, they can! Surprised If they make the roll, that is...

Never tried this before, so I was hoping someone had, and have some good advice Smile


Nope. Usually i am a "if you didn't think of it before hand, oh well' type of guy..
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Straxus
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
Straxus wrote:

The problem isn't that the PCs are taking too much time planning, an elaborate heist should be well thought out. The problem is that the players are using sooo much time preparing, and whether they plan really well or not, the execution part will suffer.
.


Then maybe give them a limited amount of time both AS PLAYERS as well as characters to do the planning..

Straxus wrote:

I'm not sure, but I think they need to come up with it quite fast. After all, they will have a very clear cut problem they need to solve. Typically they'd go: "aw man, we should have done this before coming here!"
And with Flashback (TM) Technology, they can! Surprised If they make the roll, that is...

Never tried this before, so I was hoping someone had, and have some good advice Smile


Nope. Usually i am a "if you didn't think of it before hand, oh well' type of guy..


Sure, this is normally what I do too. As I said, I've never tried this technique before, so I'm not sure if it will work well or not. But I find the potential of
a) Cutting down in planning in realtime (for this kind of thing I want the characters to take their time and plan the operation), and
b) Convey the Heist-movie-feel where we see the full scope of the plan slowly unfold, and keep an element of surprise, both for myself and the players,

very intriguing. I realize some players/GMs will hate this approach - and I might too Wink But I will give it a shot, and see how it goes, probably on a small-scale mission first, and get some feedback from the players.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the idea of a flashback mechanic, where the player rolls to see if it was anticipated during the planning stage.

I also suggest that you can be able to sum up the "planning stage" by having the player(s) roll Tactics: Heist. They give you the gist of the plan, and then depending on how well they roll, that's how well the characters anticipated what might have come up.

So instead of sitting around for hours and hours doing the planning. You can just have the players roll Investigation for figuring out what they're up against, Streetwise to get into contact with someone for illicit materials, and whatever other rolls are appropriate. Just role-play major interactions with NPCs during the planning stage, and move on. No reason to get super bogged down in setting time limits and such.

Give bonuses for certain rolls during the heist based on high rolls with Tactics: Heist or Investigation to give the characters an edge, if appropriate.

D6 is meant to be played fast and loose.
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

True, but its also supposed to be a role playing game, not just purely ROLL playing..
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
True, but its also supposed to be a role playing game, not just purely ROLL playing..


Agreed. I will play out the flashback scenes, and good roleplaying will be rewarded, of course.

The time limit isn't a hard rule, but I figured it would help the players stay focused and not getting bogged down in details. If they (and I) are having fun, it's no problem to extend that time frame.

If the players are having fun and making progress during the legwork phase, that's great - and I'm not suggesting doing this every game session.
But I've often found that the planning phase end up more as player debate/arguments than roleplaying, at least in some groups. So the goal is to try something new, and hopefully exciting, cut down on the planning stage and to keep that suspense during the execution of the heist that you have in movies.

There's a lot of good techniques in this thread to keep everything moving, and I've used a lot of them, but I think the flashback thing can work for some types of adventures to capture a certain feel that you wouldn't get otherwise.


I've also read a different variant: The Heist is divided into parts, so the players plan for the first obstacle (say, how to get in to a shipyard at night), then they do that. Then they need to figure out how to break into and steal a starship, and bypass security droids controlling the compound. So, flashback to the planning stage, they figure something out, and the play on up to a suitable point.

This way you get more focused planning stages, you also get a nice mix of action/planning. But here you still need to plan for everything, and if you forgot to bring a rope or a fake ID, then too bad. So it's a "softer" approach than the one I've been talking about so far.
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